A new study published in a pediatrics journal claims that exposure to certain organophosphate pesticides (OP), like those used on some fruits and vegetables, can increase chances of children developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Both local and national media have picked up the story, causing concern for the produce industry. Luckily for apple growers, apples were not mentioned in the report, notes Nancy Foster of the U.S. Apple Association. She also points out that “Information on the use of pesticides in this study does not reflect the significant decline in OP use over the past decade. If exposure to OP pesticides were significant in affecting the diagnosis of ADHD, then there would be a corresponding drop in ADHD diagnosis.”
United Fresh Produce Association’s Tom Stenzel also has responded to the report:
"Many of you may have seen news reports concerning research on the consumption of fresh produce and a possible link to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). United Fresh Produce Association certainly supports ongoing research into the causes of ADHD, but is concerned that misinterpretation of this single study could be counterproductive to children’s health.
The U.S. government and public health authorities around the world agree that the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh any potential risk of low levels of pesticide residues. In fact, the USDA’s 2008 report on pesticide residues referenced by the study found that 98% of fresh fruits and vegetable samples had no detectable residue levels at all. Of those few that were detectable, the report states “the vast majority were well below established tolerances,” which are determined by rigorous scientific review by the U.S. EPA as safe levels. It is a disservice to imply that the public should be concerned about the safety of fruits and vegetables in general when 98 percent of produce have no detectable residues at all.
U.S. health authorities recommend that Americans actually need to double their consumption of fruits and vegetables to protect their health. We must be extremely careful not to frighten consumers away from following that overriding health advice."
To see the report, click here.